An investigation into the relationship between speaking-in-class anxiety with instructor behaviour and classroom practices among Chinese ESL (English as a Second Language) first year undergraduates in a Hong Kong university
This study investigates the relationship of instructor behaviour and classroom practices with Chinese ESL speaking-in-class anxiety of a group of first-year university students in Hong Kong. The factors contributing to second language learning speaking-in-class anxiety (SA) are identified by means of interviews,a questionnaire and discussion. The relationship between sex, majors, students' second language (English) proficiency, self-evaluation of their first language (Chinese) and second language (L2) proficiency with SA are examined with the help of a questionnaire. A further aspect of the study explores the kinds of classroom practices and teacher behaviour that help students reduce SA by means of an experiment, comparison of data gathered from pre-and-post experiment questionnaires, participant observation, interviews, classroom activity records, audio recording and comparison of students' English oral grades before and after the experiment. Factor analysis identified five factors contributing to SA. They are - speech anxiety and fear of negative evaluation - comfortableness when speaking with native speakers - negative attitudes towards the English class - negative self-evaluation and - fear of failing the class/consequences of personal failure. Speaking in front of the class without preparation, being corrected when speaking, inadequate wait-time and not being allowed to use the first language in a second/foreign language class were also indicated by this group of first-year Chinese ESL university students as important elements leading to SA. Results suggested that teacher behaviour such as creating a warm and easy going atmosphere in the classroom, upholding teaching professionalism, providing specific help to students and providing pleasant language experience are useful to encourage spoken English in an ESL classroom. Classroom practices such as adopting appropriate tasks and activities that address varied leaning styles and strategies in the classroom, adopting appropriate modes of assessment and correction, allowing preparation in advance before asking students to speak in front of the class, providing adequate wait-time and allowing the use of the first language help lower students' SA. The thesis concludes with an examination of the methodological and theoretical implications of the study. The present research has highlighted the importance of considering the cultural elements, wait time and the use of LI in the L2 classroom, elements which have been neglected in previous anxiety research. A number of tentative and practical recommendations from the study are proposed together with suggestions for future research.